For the past few weeks, we’ve explored different aspects of God’s grace through a 4-part Summer Soul Refresher series, with insight from several of Billy Graham’s grandchildren. In part 1, Will Graham shared the meaning of grace. In part 2, Cissie Graham Lynch gave three truths she’s learned about the divine nature of God’s grace. In part 3, Roy Graham took a look at God’s grace toward us.
For the fourth and final part of this series, Edward Graham talks about showing God’s grace toward others.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people…”
He’s not like his brothers.
Although a Graham, Franklin Graham’s youngest son, Edward, doesn’t always meet Christians in his workspace. As an infantry officer, he’s spent much time in combat during eight tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Through this, he’s experienced not just God’s grace in his own life, but has found how to extend that same grace toward others.
“I think God wants us to show others grace in the example He sent His Son,” the Army major said.
“In the military, that’s a challenge because I fight evil,” Edward said before listing off a few terrorist groups. “Even when I’m fighting, I’m still called to love and show grace and mercy.”
He recognizes no matter what others believe—even if they reject Christ—we’re still to give grace to others. That’s what sets our faith apart.
“Man is inherently evil. It’s through God’s grace and mercy we’re saved,” he said.
Multiple times, Edward has been in the middle of a firefight and watched as fellow soldiers jumped through windows to save women and children stuck inside a building. These men were getting shot at but chose not to return fire until the civilians were out of the way.
“They don’t have to do that,” Edward said.
But that’s grace. Just as it was grace when God sent His only Son to a world that rejected and hated Him.
Like many Christians, Edward struggles to understand how God could do something like that. A father to four, he’s asked himself, “Would I ever send my own son to die for someone else, especially a person that hates me and is unworthy?
But God did, and He gives us grace upon grace (John 1:16).
After all, Edward said, “I have a wife I don’t deserve. I have kids I don’t deserve. I live in a country I don’t deserve.”
Recently, Edward has known the depth of God’s grace even more with the adoption of his 4-year-old son, Levi. Born in China with an ear deformity called microtia, Levi was left at a police station as an infant and placed in an orphanage.
“I wanted a child from China to have a chance to hear the Gospel,” Edward said. “My fear when I first saw a photo of him sitting in an orphanage is he never would.”
He continued, “To extend our family and welcome a child the eyes of the world would not, is an extension of God’s love and grace.”
But this beautiful picture of God’s love is not without some struggles.
There’s a language barrier between Levi and his new family. On their second day with him in China, Edward realized Levi didn’t know how to hug, and the child tried to kiss him with his “lips wide, and tongue out.”
As the family continually tries to connect and bond with one another back in the United States, they take turns showing one another grace.
“I think Levi’s shown us more grace in this thing than the other way around,” Edward said.
So how do we extend God’s grace to others even when we don’t feel like it?
We endure. Keep going. Press on.
Sometimes, though, grace toward others doesn’t look like extensive patience or being the recipient of a wet kiss.
Receiving God’s Grace
When Edward was not much older than Levi, he found the grace of God. While in California for one of his grandfather’s Crusades, he asked his mom what it meant to become a Christian. After she explained, he put the Army tanks he’d been playing with down, got on his knees and prayed for Jesus’ forgiveness. Looking back, he recognizes it wasn’t his well-known grandfather or dad who led him to the Lord, but his mom.
In Edward’s case, he felt the grace of God through one of his friends directly challenging his walk with the Lord.
While in his junior year at West Point, a friend came up to Edward one day and pointed out he wasn’t living for God.
“Most people don’t have the courage to call out Billy Graham’s grandson,” said Edward, whose friend encouraged him to start teaching Sunday school.
But he’s thankful his friend did.
“I’m not saved because I’m Billy Graham’s grandson,” Edward said. “That can give me nothing. It’s something by Jesus Christ alone. I’ve been renewed by the Holy Spirit. [And it’s] nothing I’ve ever done—military service or the last name ‘Graham’—which provides the big nose and chin I have—it’s only through the grace and mercy of the Lord.”
“He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit…”